Cannes Lions: Skincare Ads that AREN'T Old Spice ... and the Evolution of Axe

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It's with pleasure today that I discovered I lied in my last piece - that depressing waiting room-looking area isn't the only spot for screening ads in Cannes this week. A real-life theatre in Level 1 of the Festival screened a bunch of body care ads this afternoon.

I'm gonna spare you more starry-eyed harping about how OLD SPICE BRINGS JOY TO ALL THE UNIVERSE. Here's other stuff that stuck out, and at the end, a reflection on Axe.

Yves Rocher, "What is Essential Makes Beautiful," M&C Saatchi GAD. As a diversity of couples begin the gentle act of lovemaking, the health benefits of sex appear across the screen.

This ad is pretty and a little bit captivating. I like the variety of age, textures and colours. But halfway in, I got the sense the brand just wanted to use this hodgepodge of intimacy to score buzz. The tagline sealed it for me: If sex yields all those benefits to your skin, physique and general well-bring, why would I buy more beauty stuff from anyone, least of all Yves Rocher? I can just go make like a rabbit in the dark somewhere.

After more thought it was like, oh right, YR must be trying to say its products are the most natural, like sex, and natural things make you beautiful, so you should buy its bottled yumyums. Still, that's an enormous leap for a person to make in a handful of seconds. Call me slow, but it took me two hours and nothing else to do before my Yves Rocher eureka! moment.

Dove Men Care, "The Manthem," Ogilvy, London. Life from infant to man is ever so demanding, and boy do the boys owe themselves a nice warm soapy cuddle.

The premise of this one is reflexively "uh ... really?", because we're all worn to shreds by expectation and irrational social pressures (like getting married on time!). But the work is bright and infectious, the ad well-meaning, and it's hard to deny a guy some soft suds if it keeps him from going all Bell Jar.

Impulse's Romantic Spark, "Stare," VEGA OLMOS PONCE of Argentina. Two strangers on opposite sides of the street catch eyes while walking. And as their stare holds, all else yields.

Cheesy as hell, but the effect of that invisible gaze is so dramatic that it's hard not to feel roped in.

Axe, "So Sorry, Destiny," Ponce, Buenos Aires. Follow two strangers who belong together up until the climactic moment of destiny - dashed by an unwelcome, yet fragrant, intruder.

I could be wrong, given that brand personalities vary from country to country, but I think this piece reflects Axe's effort to evolve its core but blunt "women can't resist the awesome rock-star smell of us" brand personality. The work is less slapstick, more nuanced, but the punchlines are still dark, dickheaded and fresh. The perfect way to evolve without creating a knee-jerk effect.

Work for other products in the Axe suite also lend the impression that the company's shaken by the unexpected contender in Old Spice, whose quirky plays on the "I'm a MAN!" stereotype is more in step with a generation that digs a little randomness and schadenfreude. (Consider.)

As a result, these pieces sport a little bit of "WTF?" without betraying the core brand message: our aerosol aromatics will make the ladies think you're walking chocolate.

Axe Play 2010, "Minosofa" or "Sofasaurus," Ponce, Buenos Aires. Minotaur sofa man watches game with friends, goes about life, remembers girls, sprays on the Axe and ... voila! It ain't change that's been stuck between those plush brown cushions.

Axe Dry Sensitive, "Reizt Frauen nicht die Haut." The basic idea is that, out of two magic flying men, one would've gotten the coveted girl if only he used a deodorant that didn't make his 'pits itch.

Oh how I laughed!

That's it for screening observations. Catch you guys later.

by Angela Natividad    Jun-21-10   Click to Comment   
Topic: Brands, Campaigns, Commercials, Industry Events   

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